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Creating a Better Home Environment for Seniors with Mobility Issues


By Hazel Bridges

Limited mobility is a challenge many seniors citizens face. You may have even noticed your own parents struggling with small tasks they used to do easily. The worst part for most people is having to start relying on family members more for everyday activities. But they shouldn’t have to give up their independence entirely in their own homes. There are modifications you can make that can help them regain some control of your life.
Recognizing Mobility Issues

In order to plan necessary modifications, it is obviously important to thoroughly understand which areas they are struggling with. Make a point when visiting to observe how Mom or Dad gets around the house. Input from the doctor and other health care professionals may give you insight on your parents’ abilities and areas of difficulty. Once you know their difficulties, you can create a plan to help them improve their surroundings.

Preventing Injuries
Helping them find ways to overcome their specific challenges is important for their quality and enjoyment of life, but it is also an important part of preventing injuries. And according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA),  “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” But there are some steps you can take to help prevent these or lessen the chances of them happening.

  1. Talk to them about their current health issues.
  2. Stay on top of their eye appointments.
  3. Pay attention to their mobility.
  4. Keep track of their medications.
  5. Assess the safety of their home.

Bathroom Modifications
One of the most common places for falls to happen is in the bathroom. And no one wants to give up bathing themselves. That’s why this is a good place to start with modifications for safety and independence. Consider removing the tub if there is not a separate shower and installing a shower without a barrier. Also, install a bench or use a shower chair for increased stability on wet surfaces, and install safety bars on at least two sides.

Other Modifications
Although the bathroom is possibly the most important room to improve, there are other modifications that should be considered to make their lives easier. For example, if they have stairs inside the home, it might be necessary to install a chair lift to make it easier to move from floor to floor. If their entrance has steps, you might need to install a ramp, especially if they use a wheelchair or walker to get around.

Organization is especially important for someone with mobility issues. Depending on their specific issues, you may need to move things they use frequently, like cookware or dishes, to lower shelves. It’s also helpful to organize their medications into one safe and easy-to-access location. This is where it is beneficial to walk through the home with them and find out what they use the most and how they access it. And if you are not particularly great at organizing, consider hiring a local service to do it for you. Not only does putting things in their proper places help with finding things they need, removing clutter can help prevent accidents.

Helping seniors modify their homes to maintain their quality of life as long as possible is worth the added effort and expense it may cost. If they feel they can maintain control of their day-to-day functions, it will be much easier for them to take care of themselves and remain independent for much longer. Then, when the time does come to enlist some help from outside sources, you may be able to ease them into the transition much more comfortably.

Hazel Bridges is a freelance writer and a Wellness Coach for seniors.

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